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RootMetrics Tests EE 4G Mobile Broadband Speeds in 3 UK Cities

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013 (1:40 pm) - Score 1,312

RootMetrics has posted the results from 95,672 separate speedtests of EE’s new 4G (LTE 1800MHz) based Mobile Broadband network in the UK cities of Liverpool, Cardiff and Sheffield. The study found that EE was broadly living up to its promise of delivering internet speeds that range from 8-12Mbps (Megabits per second).

The group claims that this makes EE’s “4GEE” service more than twice as fast as rival 3G networks. In short the mixed average 4G and 3G download speeds recorded in Cardiff came top at 11.8Mbps (94% of downloads completed without fault), while Liverpool followed on a respectable 9.4Mbps (92.9% of downloads completed) and Sheffield just skirted the official claims at 7.9Mbps (93.9% of downloads completed).

However coverage is still a weak spot for EE, though they’re constantly expanding its reach (here), and as a result 4G connectivity could only be achieved 71.3% of the time in Cardiff, 58.7% in Liverpool and 48.7% in Sheffield. EE’s 4G network currently covers around 45% of the UK population, which should reach 55% by summer 2013 and extend to 98% by 2014.

Bill Moore, Rootmetrics President and CEO, said:

EE’s 4G network has lived up to its own promises: speeds are meeting EE’s pledges and indoor performance is reasonably good. At the same time, the technology is more powerful than the bar that has been set, and there should be room for further improvement.

When it comes to availability of EE 4G in city centres, the picture is positive if not universally excellent. We see the percentage of 4G improving in line with other (international) launches, but there are some notable variations like people in Cardiff getting a better service than those in Sheffield, despite paying the same.”

The speeds given above also included times when the signal roamed its way over to a 3G connection (i.e. when the 4G side became unavailable). Thankfully RootMetrics noted that the scores were much more promising when the 3G figures were stripped out to reveal 4G-only data. In this situation Cardiff returned 16.2Mbps and Liverpool hit 14.4Mbps.

As usual any anecdotal speedtests like this should be taken with a pinch of salt but the results are still promising. On the other hand it could mean that EE has very few actual 4G customers. Now we just need EE’s rivals to launch 4G, which should happen around the summer or late spring.

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11 Responses
  1. Avatar DTMark says:

    I’d like to see tests in less populated areas where contention is less of an issue.

    As I sit here, a quick test on our 3G connection comes back with


    Which is well within the “promised” 4G speed range and it’s still well below what I’ve seen others get with 3G.

    So it seems entirely reasonable to presume that rather better speeds can or will be attainable when 3 roll out their service.

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Ofcom have a new report for that, which is due fairly soon (i.e. after their next fixed line speeds report in Feb/March 13).

  2. Avatar DanielM says:

    I live in Liverpool.

    and them results that they got must have been about 3-7am in the morning. i get about 5mbps now on the lte service, rising to around 9Mbps during the morning.

    even worse. when i visited the city centre near the docks yesterday speeds where slower (4mbps) dispite having perfect coverage. My phone was able to tether faster on 3g.

    1. Avatar DTMark says:

      A general question and point… I thought, and may be wrong on this, that 3G’s fastest speeds are attainable when the modem is connecting to more than one cell simultaneously, like a sort of “bonded radio circuit”.

      I wonder if 4G is the same – that a “mesh” style configuration provides the fastest possible speeds/is required to get the top headline speeds which also assists with managing contention across the access points.

      And therefore, until sufficient masts have been upgraded in any single area, rather like with 3G which only comes back with maybe 7.2Meg if it can see two cells on one mast, 4G really needs a “complete” rollout in any given area to work best.

    2. Avatar DanielM says:

      the DC thing is dual but not hspa+ (upto 21Mbps)

      Round here there is dc-hspa support (upto 43Mbps) but you never see much more than 20ish, Plus the LTE sites share the 3g sites bandwidth (as in 4g and 3g are on the same towers).


    3. Avatar DTMark says:

      That’s quite amazing for 3G… the only time I see those speeds are on cable @ parents house where the test flies up to ~31Meg instantly and just stays there.

      Speed test results here vary but there’s always a pattern. The speed flies up about 6Meg or 9Meg straight away then either hovers around that point and remains there – that’s about the lower bound of the speed – or almost immediately then jumps up from there up to about 10 to 12Meg which is what made me think it’s connecting to maybe two cells, then three, then four (when it can). It seems not, though. We are 2.7km from the nearest mast.

      I was looking at replacing the dongle with the new Three one, the E3256 which appears to support DC-HSPA though I have no idea if the network here supports that, and I’ve emailed Edimax (router manufacturer) to see if there’s a firmware upgrade for that, as it doesn’t appear in the compatibility list.

    4. Avatar DanielM says:

      That test was done on the t-mobile 3g network using an unlocked E3256.

    5. Avatar DTMark says:

      A new all-time record – bit slow on the upstream though, usually higher than this.


      The other person in the village that uses this would appear to be away from home 😉

    6. Avatar DanielM says:

      That’s amazing for three. your area must have been upgraded.

      they tell u @ http://www.three.co.uk/Support/Coverage

    7. Avatar DTMark says:

      “At the moment Ultrafast Internet is unavailable in your area. We’re continuing to upgrade our network, so please check back soon to see if your signal and speed has improved.”

      The map is a mix of indoor and outdoor coverage probably because the village is on sloping land, we’re lucky in that because the house is on a slight incline we’re higher up than some.

      Reply from Edimax:

      “Unfortunately, E3256 hasn’t been tested compatible with any Edimax 3G routers. The schedule to include this new 3G dongle is unknown, therefore we are unable to confirm when this will be supported.”

      There appear to be two main suppliers of 3G based routers – Solwise and Edimax, so there isn’t a great deal of choice.

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